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Time for new window treatments in my son's room



Lights shining into your teen’s bedroom can cause sleep issues and moodiness

artificial light, teens, moodiness, sleep

The venetian blind people are going to love the recent large-scale study of U.S. teens which shows associations between outdoor, artificial light at night and health outcomes. The research was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, and is published in JAMA Psychiatry.

So, whether you live in a city like Newburgh or Poughkeepsie or in a more rural setting like Campbell Hall, the issue remains the same. If outdoor lights shine directly into your teen’s bedroom, it impacts on his ability to get a restful night’s sleep. And a less than restful night’s sleep can lead to both poor physical and mental health.

Editor’s Note: Before you read the rest of the article, go into you teen’s bedroom and check if outdoor lights are shining through his windows. Simple solution. Buy light blocking shades or window covering. You may end up seeing a happier child.

READ MORE: Catching more Z's could mean more A's

Daily rhythms, including the circadian rhythms that drive our sleep-wake cycles, are thought to be important factors that contribute to physical and mental health. The presence of artificial light at night can disrupt these rhythms, altering the light-dark cycle that influences hormonal, cellular, and other biological processes. Researchers have investigated associations among indoor artificial light, daily rhythms, and mental health, but the impact of outdoor artificial light has received relatively little attention, especially in teens.

This study data was collected from 2001 to 2004 as part of the National Comorbidity Survey Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). The dataset included information about individual-level and neighborhood-level characteristics, mental health outcomes, and sleep patterns for a total of 10,123 teens, ages 13 to 18 years old.

As part of in-person interviews for the NCS-A, the adolescents completed a validated assessment to determine whether they met the diagnostic criteria for various mental disorders. The teens also answered questions about their sleep habits, reporting what time they usually went to bed and how many hours of sleep they usually got on weeknights and on weekends.

To gauge the teens’ exposure to outdoor artificial light at night, the researchers used satellite imagery data to calculate the average artificial light levels for each census block group in the U.S. As expected, levels of artificial light at night varied according to certain neighborhood-level factors, such as urbanicity, socioeconomic levels, and population density.

Importantly, teens who lived in areas with high levels of artificial light at night tended to report later weeknight bedtimes and shorter weeknight sleep duration. The analyses showed that, on average, teens in areas with the highest levels of outdoor light went to bed about 29 minutes later and got 11 fewer minutes of sleep than did teens in areas with the lowest levels.

The data showed that greater levels of artificial light at night were also associated with increased likelihood of having a mood disorder or anxiety disorder. Specifically, teens who lived in areas with higher levels of artificial light at night were more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder or specific phobias.

The study asserts that although environmental light exposure is only one factor in a more complex network of influences on sleep and behavior, it is likely to be an important target for prevention and interventions in adolescent health




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